Our Opinion: Lawmakers burn public with exemption
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Smoking remains on the list of rules that apply to almost everyone except elected lawmakers.
Most private and public employees — including state workers — must walk outdoors during breaks to smoke. The smoke break may be accompanied by rain, sleet, snow, rain or whatever inclement element may be in play that day.
Employees in the Capitol may take advantage of an indoor, designated smoking area in the northeast portion of the basement garage.
Senators and representatives, however, need not leave the cozy confines of their offices, where they determine the smoking policy.
We find this arrangement inequitable.
Both the Senate and House, to their credit, prohibit smoking in their respective chambers and galleries.
House members recently voted to continue the exemption for their offices, a policy also shared by senators.
We encourage reconsideration of this policy.
The public justifiably is resentful when lawmakers — whether local, state or federal — enact or exempt themselves from policies that apply to the general public.
Adding fuel to the rancor caused by this elitist attitude is that smoking has become a matter of public policy.
To advance public health, governments have adopted smoking regulations and prohibitions.
In the interest of equity, lawmakers deserve to follow they same rules they promulgate.
We urge legislators to set an example. Eliminate smoking in the Capitol.
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